Health Care Reform: Questions and Answers
Here, WebMD answers some of the most common questions that came in from readers after the ruling.
How does this decision affect those with a preexisting condition?
Starting in 2014, insurers will no longer legally be allowed to deny coverage to anyone because of their medical condition or charge them more for that coverage.
How will it affect people that already have good health insurance and a preexisting condition?
If you already have private insurance or you're enrolled in Medicare or Medicaid, you will not be required to buy new or additional insurance because of the health reform law. Generally, you can stay with your current plan if you're happy with it.
Many people who buy insurance on their own (meaning they don't get it at work) and have a preexisting medical condition, however, have held onto pricey coverage because their health condition prevents them from switching plans. Starting in 2014, these people will have greater freedom to shop for coverage and to determine if another plan better suits their needs, because insurers will no longer be allowed to deny people coverage based on prior medical diagnoses.
How can I afford to buy health insurance if I am currently uninsured?
One of the law's major goals is to make health insurance more affordable.
If you don't get insurance through your job, you will be eligible to buy coverage through state-based insurance marketplaces scheduled to be up and running for open enrollment by fall 2013 for insurance coverage that will start in January 2014. To make insurance affordable for millions of Americans, tax credits will be available for people with incomes that are between 133% and 400% of the poverty level (up to $92,200 annually for a family of four in 2012).
There will also be caps placed on how much people will be required to spend in total out-of-pocket costs, including deductibles, co-pays, and co-insurance. These amounts will also be determined based on a person's income.